Greg Egan
Quarantine Cover



Starts off as a detective novel, then expands into a larger world of nanotech, alien contact and world manipulation through quantum mechanics. Comparable to The Lathe of Heaven, with more specifics given on the engines behind manipulation. Le Guin's book has the better story, though.

This book has a lot going on in a short count of pages. Some force that has put out solar system into a kind of "bubble", a doomsday cult reacting to that event, nanotech and brain modifications similar to smartphone "apps", potential alien contact and the aforementioned quantum mechanical manipulations. I can see how tags like "cyberpunk" landed on it, but this really is more of a "what if" story focused on quantum states.

I can't say much about the ending without spoiling the story. The author freely admits one of his interpretations is wrong, discussing it in a spoiler-filled essay on his website. Like most good science fiction, though, the exact method isn't the important factor in the examination. Discussions of the right to manipulate and which evils to choose are held between characters, with a lot of science in the mix, which could turn away more casual readers.

Quibbles aside, I liked it - a solid 3½ stars. While listed as part of a "series", the author has clearly stated they are not connected at all; this book stands alone. I plan to read other stories from Egan in the near future.